Today I met the boy I’m gonna Malheur

From The Unpublished Diaries of Natalie Gusheidt (Simon & Schuster, 2018)

Dear Diary:

My pitter’s in a pickle. Cynthia spilled after homeroom that Dylan’s gone #BLM. I can’t suck tongue with liberal patsies — that’s so JV. I’m a sophomore now; bring on the MEN! And lo, our ever-provident God gifted me a Malheur Wildlife Preserve rafter-packed with misfired testosterone. They’re all so gravy, such bellicose Adonises, I think I’d just DIE if I couldn’t have them ALL!

I mean, Ammon Bundy, born to LEAD. You could cartwheel across his beard and lose yourself in its nectar of Roja Parfums Aoud Absolue Précieux and Del Taco chili cheese fries. I’ve read somewhere that he manicures it, massages it, cradles it and soothes it with Luke Bryan ballads in a six-hour ritual before a grueling day of refusing to pay grazing fees. Some say horrid things about his brother Ryan, but I think he’s so beautiful he can’t help but want to kiss himself. They’re the sons of dreamy Cliven Bundy, who, in his most recent mug shot, looks just like Harry Styles after a rotten-prune suicide attempt 67 years from now.

They and their yeehapostles claimed God directed them to our state to make a stand against the government and maybe escort me to spring formal, hopefully in shackles that match my dress (won’t I be the envy!). I understand, because that very same God just last month dared me to kiss the stuttering 46-year-old who works at my uncle’s paint store. It’s like Pastor Whipple told me when I was 13 and he was an alcoholic: “Jesus rubber-stamps his approval on everything we’re gonna do, anyway. That’s what’s great about being a Christian.”

And Jon Ritzheimer — OMG. When he abandoned his wife and daughters to go parka-party with dudes and filmed himself yelling, “Daddy swore an oath!” while waving his pocket Constitution around, I couldn’t help but sigh, “Natalie swore an oath too” and screen-cap his maw for my locket Constitution. Sean Anderson I admired for his beet-faced sensitivity; behind those blustery pleas for violence roiled an internal struggle between a frightened child in need of a hug and a barely coherent adult lusting for a bloodbath with the FBI (too cool!). David Fry had excellent hair — I’d like to know his favorite conditioner, maybe a little more about UFOs and living tax-free. (He also has a cool last name. Not enough vowels, though.)

They were all so passionate about their cause, which I think had something to do with the feds being lame. I asked my dad why they were fighting, but he got so mad about President Obama inventing racism, unemployment and internecine warfare he couldn’t finish his beer. It seemed to me that all they did was innocently covet some land and the government threw major shade. It’s kinda like when Gina was dating Max and I decided I liked Max, too, and Gina said, “You can’t like Max because I’m dating Max,” so I sat in Max’s lap until Max saw I was right. Anyway, I thought it was awesome: hanging out at a wildlife refuge, driving other peoples’ vehicles, being interviewed for television like you were an actual smart person with opinions that weren’t sputters of buckshot and parroted trigger words. Plus, people send you candy!

But they’re all in prison now. Bummer. I was so sad when they busted the soiree. It must have been legendary. They were even on YouTube, braying hooey to the end. They left explosives and trenches behind, but those can’t compare to the trenches they filled in my heart with mushy heartaches and artifacts of unrequited dreams. I’ll never know what it’s like to ride a horse with an American flag. To dance atop hills of refuse. To bark of Armageddon under a tin-foil moon.

Oh, my beloved Malheur occupiers. History may forget you, but I never will.

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